Space Engineers & Medieval Engineers – Roadmap

After two years of development it is time to share some more information about both games. As Marek Rosa, CEO of Keen Software House, said: "People deserve to know how our games are shaping up, especially Space Engineers, as we are approaching the final turn in the game’s development before it leaves Early Access."

The studio is now ready to test both games with other "random" people. They will try these games for the first time and developers will be able to detect potential errors, bugs and provide important insights for further development (where they get stuck, what they enjoy etc.). Marek Rosa is also pointing out the issues every Monday on Twitch:

Space Engineers roadmap

One of studio top priorities is to improve multiplayer. Developers are working on a method where they put all non-real-time game-logic in a secondary thread. For example, the computations for drilling/refinery/conveyors/oxygen won’t delay the main thread (which has to stay real-time). The reason is that players can always build crazily huge things which slow down the game (regardless of how much developers optimize it), and if players perceive non-smooth movement, they think it’s a bug. 

The development cycle of a game is complex, but its core idea does not differ from the development of the majority of products that are out on the market today. As Marek wrote in blog for explanation – If you want to build a car, the first you must assemble all necessary parts. The next step is the test drive. After you identify any possible issues you fix them. If it's done, you add the final touches – painting, polishing, etc. Then you are ready to selling the car. The same principles apply to both games. Space Engineers is now in the phase where (nearly) all necessary parts have been assembled and they are ready to move to the major polishing and bug-fixing phase. This will probably be the longest and final bug-fixing period before Release.

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Space Engineers original roadmap

  • Multiplayer – polishing, checking design, lag, compensation

  • Fix all sounds, 3D, arcade / realistic (ask programmers and our sound designer to make a list of all sounds used in the game and then have someone test them all – so that we don’t miss anything)

  • Voxels: data cell cache, storage, optimization, profiling voxel runtime

  • Render fixes (Ambient, environment map / lighting / reflections), occlusion query, ambient + backlight

  • Occlusion culling – blocks / voxels (speed up the rendering)

  • Disable object highlight on LCD screens (it’s annoying)

  • Optimization and fixing the loading screen, and checking if there are worlds that take forever to load while not properly informing the player

    • Fix loading screen issues (e.g. the wheel gets stuck at the end and I can hear the in-game sounds)

  • Red message box – make the background texture less transparent; it’s hard to read text on it

  • Conveyor system optimization

  • Drilling / mining optimization

  • New animation system / cashing  (speed optimization) / other optimizations

    • Fix ugly animations

    • Add new animations – e.g. holding a weapon

    • Walking over small obstacles doesn't work – the player has to jump over them

    • Jumping and holding the forward-movement key doesn't result in a forward jump, and this doesn't feel right

  • Shooting and weapons

    • A few more new weapons

    • We need much better animations, holding weapons, ammo reload

    • In general, we need a basic FPS experience

  • "saving please wait" – hide this overlay text and do saving asynchronously without bothering the player

  • Why does the game auto-save in multiplayer when I am the client and manual save isn't available?

  • Remembering removed trees on planets

  • Nvidia GameWorks – consider HBAO + Antialiasing (speed up)

  • SE Indication of hydrogen fuel

  • Spectator flash light / night vision

  • Object highlight – outline – finish – also in ME

  • Finish support for scenarios, mission scripts and sub-missions (will need for tutorials)

    • Better support for gradual tutorials (story-based tutorials), submissions

  • Finish building from cockpit

  • Rethink the way of respawning, respawn ships, landing ships, and rethink "mobile tools" (manual assembler – so player can respawn without a ship and still be able to start building)

  • Rag-doll + IK, bullet impact, falling, four legged…

  • Official persistent servers

  • Automated tests for our testers + buy dedicated computers where the game will run 24×7

  • Redo the GUI framework (this doesn’t mean changing graphics; it only means the underlying tech which has become very cluttered over time)

  • Game logic optimizations + oxygen (mostly for MP) + oxygen sensor

  • Add voxel material in survival

  • Improve tutorials

    • Reduce the usage of text panels, deliver the info to the player via context-sensitive screen hints

    • When I launch the first interactive tutorial, I see two things that I shouldn't see – the respawn screen and "you have been accepted to faction"

    • Quickstart will be our interactive tutorial, with minimum text, HUD sub-mission navigation. Its purpose will be to engage the player and not to explain everything that happens in the game.

    • After we add this new tutorial, remove the video tutorial message box

  • Development of Xbox One version

Medieval Engineers roadmap

On the other side in the Medieval Engineers, things are a bit different. The game will complete one year in Early Access very soon and many of the features that developers planned to implement are already in the game – e.g. survival mode, castle siege mode, multiplayer, simple AI characters, and crafting. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of issues, bugs etc.

The overall gameplay lacks a polished feeling – e.g. the first few minutes might feel very annoying for some players, the controls and gameplay is not intuitive, there are weird animations, etc. These are the things
which must be tuned first  before adding new elements.

Medieval Engineers

ME original roadmap

  • Add planets to ME – this will unify the technology in our games and make future improvements easier

  • Animation polishing

  • Inventory size rebalance

  • Character stats rebalance

  • Multiplayer fixes and polishing

  • Polish the in-game screens

  • Fix all sounds, 3D (ask programmers and our sound designer to make a list of all sounds used in the game and then have someone test them all – so that we don’t miss anything)

  • Combat system

  • AI changes, fixes, simplification

  • Building on a grid

  • Large grid construction site

  • Small grid construction site

  • Rethink if the respawn cart is necessary – why can't the player respawn in a normal way?

  • Testing scenarios for DEV

  • Tool durability, tool damage

  • New animals – e.g. wolves, bears, etc.

  • Fix Z-fighting

  • Door / window blocks

  • Gate blocks

  • Mechanical blocks

  • Redo the manipulation tool, remove it from the toolbar, add it to the context-sensitive action key (e.g. T), disable physics while the player is holding the item

  • Faction system

  • Claim of an area

  • Support to add voxels in survival

  • Area inventories – remove this feature (players should not have access to the inventories / items that are not in the direct vicinity or those that they are not interacting with directly)

  • Regrowing trees / bushes

  • New maps / worlds

  • More voxel materials such as iron, sand stone, etc.

  • More multi-blocks

  • More compound block combinations

  • Specialized workshops

  • Specialized furnaces

Both games

  • Add/build new blocks/grids – finish the redesign – static, dynamic; small, large; creative, survival, construction sites

  • Multiplayer server optimizations (read the second paragraph under the Space Engineers roadmap section for a more detailed analysis)

  • Falling in 1g (especially in SE) doesn’t feel like 1g – the falling is way too slow; this was caused by changes in physics due to the Moon gravity, but the result is not good (yes, we want higher jumps on the Moon but we also want “normal” jumps/falling on Earth)

  • Finish transition to PBR (physically based rendering) and DX11, all models and textures needs to be checked

  • Redesign and simplify the key and mouse controls and GUI, check F1 help screen, left and right mouse click – try to do things with as few keys as possible by adding context-sensitive commands, get it to a stage when we don’t need to show 5-7 lines of default screen hints

  • Fix the 3rd person aim-point; first-person is ok

  • First-person movement and camera – the experience needs to improve, since now it feels all wrong

  • When pressing ESC while playing single-player (menu screen), the game doesn’t pause (and that’s just weird)

  • Proper sound when the character is running on armour blocks – players don't hear metallic steps

    • need to check all sounds in both games

  • Faster executable loading – when I installed the game on a new computer and launched it from Steam, I could only see a black screen and game mouse cursor and listen to game music for about 15 seconds; I don't understand what the game is doing during this time before the main menu – trying to upset me?

  • Particles fix

    • Consider Nvidia Gameworks / GPU particle

    • Editor

    • Rendering, especially DX11

    • Fix individual particles in each game and keep the low number of billboards and pixel overdraw

    • Programmer – make a list of all particle effects in the game

    • Artist – make a list of all particle effects in the game

    • Then match these lists, so there’s no unfixed particle, and we’re not fixing a particle that’s not used in the game

  • Faster world loading

    • Cache assets that don't change between worlds – when the game needs a voxel texture in one world and I exit to the main menu and load a new world, this texture can stay in memory – and the same applies for hundreds of other assets

    • In the main menu, the game should pre-load the most used assets, so that when a player loads a world, most of it is already loaded

    • Streaming assets, but make sure this won't break the game (lags, crashes, delays) when something suddenly jumps to the player (jump drive, spawned object, etc.)

    • Or if pre-loading isn’t a good option, then at least load assets asynchronously so the game doesn’t lag for a few hundred milliseconds every time new assets are needed

  • Refactor code (e.g. cube builder) – for two years we have been adding new blocks to this class, and it’s time for some spring cleaning

  • ME + SE player skills

  • In-game server admin tools (with GUI) – take the best from Midspace’s SE Toolbox and Tyrsis’ Server Extender; assume players want to become space masters

  • Main menu redesign

    • Think about how we can simplify it

    • Workshop button – move it somewhere else (e.g. Load), because it shows only world workshop items and not the entire workshop (blueprints, 3D models, etc)

  • Blueprints – simplify the user interface and GUI

  • Economy model (very simple)

  • Camera shake (e.g. when near explosion, when hit by a larger object, when shooting, etc)

  • Analyse the player stats and see where people get stuck, where they have problems, if tutorials are actually helping them or not, what changes in game design can prolong their game time (by making the game more intuitive and better)

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